As I am currently waiting at the airport to go back to the United States after a 5-month adventure in Paris, my last hurrah to Paris before I return is a post on Paris in film. This is a truly magnificent city, and deserves every ounce of the respect it has been afforded in film. Here are a few notable scenes dealing with the city. I love you, Paris, and I will always have you.
An American in Paris, 1951. One of Vincente Minnelli’s masterpieces, the film follows a struggling American artist in Paris by the name of Jerry Mulligan, played by Gene Kelly, and his adventures in life and love in the city. Winning 6 Academy Awards and ranking high on the AFI’s list of the 100 best movies of all time, this is a necessary inclusion in a post about Paris in film. In this scene, Jerry entertains a group of children on the street in Paris (well, a replica on the MGM backlot).
Funny Face, 1957. A well-known film among Audrey Hepburn fans, this charming musical about the fashion world takes place predominantly in Paris. This song is sung just after the arrival of the characters in the city, and although much of it is rather corny, it’s a sweet tribute to Paris. Although the film stars Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire, I think that the film really belongs to the magnificent Kay Thompson, who steals the show away from them as a supporting actress.
Obviously. Casablanca, 1942. Though the vast majority of the movie takes place in Morocco, the entire film is basically a love letter to Paris. Ilsa Lund and Rick Blaine began a whirlwind love affair in Paris, and it is the city that kept them together, drove them apart, and then finally got them together again at the very end when Rick famously tells Ilsa “We’ll always have Paris.” I don’t have to go into the brilliance of this film, its immortality speaks for itself.
Gigi, 1958. Based on a Broadway play, this screen version of Colette’s classic novel is probably most well-known for Maurice Chevalier’s singing “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” and providing American audiences with the stereotypical view of Paris. Leslie Caron is marvelous in the part, even though she was far older than Gigi was supposed to be.
Meanwhile, Lucy goes to Paris and wreaks havoc.
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953. In this scene, both Marilyn and Jane Russell have had falling-outs with their men, and having arrived in Paris, sing this song.
Gay Purr-ee, 1962. This animated story of two cats in Paris stars Judy Garland and Robert Goulet.
Great selections…and I so envy you your five months in Paris. I completely agree with you about Kay Thompson in “Funny Face” (though Audrey is lovely in all that Givenchy) – she could have had a wonderful film career, but at least “we’ll always have Funny Face”…
I am in love with Paris. It’s likely that I’ll be back for good at some point–aside from dealing with the ridiculous bureaucracy, I really enjoyed living there. Right now I’m so tired I can’t even think!! But yes, I am lucid enough to say that Kay Thompson is the best thing about Funny Face, though Audrey in Givenchy is definitely one of the 7 wonders of the world and that hilarious line “It’s a BUCCI!” uttered by Dovima is definitely worth the price of admission. God, I’m getting more incoherent by the minute…